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UK news in brief

06 May 2022

Diocese of Exeter

A stained-glass window based on the LLF logo

A stained-glass window based on the LLF logo

Living in Love and Faith process enters new stage

THE end of the consultancy stage of the process for discerning the future direction of the Church on questions of relationships, sexuality, and gender was marked with a prayer service at Exeter Cathedral, on Thursday of last week. Contributions made to the LLF survey over the past 18 months will now be passed to the General Synod and the College of Bishops. The service was led by the Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Jackie Searle. She said of the process: “People who hold very different views to one another and have very different life experience have come together, offered their prayers, and worshipped God together.” Contributors to the process were invited to give their reflections at the service. One person, who is in a civil partnership, said of the process: “It worked, but it was hard.”


Welsh bishops welcome conversion-therapy ban

THE Welsh Government’s commitment to banning conversion therapy in all forms has been welcomed by the Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales. In a statement last Friday, the Bishops expressed their “support for the LGBTQI+ community and for any action that protects them from this abusive and damaging practice”. They reiterated a statement from last May: “Anything which seeks to suggest that there is something inherently wrong or sinful in those who are non-heterosexual or which seeks to force people to try and change their sexuality is, we believe, wrong.”


Retired priest given absolute discharge owing to ill health

A FORMER priest in Sheffield diocese, Hilary Alflatt, who is 87 and has dementia, has been given an absolute discharge after Hull Crown Court heard that he had only months to live, the BBC reported on Tuesday. In March, a jury heard how Mr Alflatt, previously known as Malcolm, had beaten and subjugated a woman in his parish between 1983 and 1992 (News, 1 April). Mr Alflatt was judged to be unfit to stand trial, and so the jury was asked to determine whether he had committed the offences rather than deliver verdicts. He was cleared of specific counts of actual bodily harm (ABH), but was found to have committed ABH over the nine-year period. The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, expressed “deep shame” that it took so long for Mr Alflatt to be brought to justice, and said that he wished to “apologise unreservedly to the survivor of this abuse for what she suffered and to pay tribute to her bravery in coming forward to seek justice”.


Cleric barred from ministry

A FORMER Vicar of St Aidan’s, Leicester, the Revd Simon Lumby, has been barred from ministry for life, after being found by a disciplinary tribunal to have engaged in behaviour “unbecoming and inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders”. Mr Lumby, who served as Priest-in-Charge from 2006 to 2009 and as Vicar from 2009 to 2021, was found to have fondled the genitals of an adult male lodger, known as Person 1, on three occasions while they were sharing a bed in 2013 and 2014, but that the touching was likely to have been consensual. Person 1 testified that he shared a bed with Mr Lumby to comfort him when the latter was suffering from night terrors. Mr Lumby denied the charge of touching. He did not participate in the tribunal. Proceedings were adjourned from 16 January until 7 April. In light of the nature of the incident and previous findings of misconduct against Mr Lumby, including that he had sent “inappropriate text messages” to a 17-year-old boy, the panel decided that the appropriate penalty was a permanent prohibition from ministry.


The Auckland ProjectWelcome inflation: a sculpture by Steve Messam was blown up on the site of the Durham Faith Museum last week, as part of the city’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025. It is in the shortlist of four. The Faith Museum is due to open in 2023, in the Scotland wing of Auckland Castle


 ‘Priest’ spends the night in Windsor barracks

AN APPARENT impostor claiming to be a priest talked his way into the Coldstream Guards’ barracks beside Windsor Castle on Tuesday of last week, the Sun reported this week. The man claimed to be a friend of the regiment’s chaplain, and was able to enter the base without showing ID. He spent the evening drinking in the officers’ mess, where he was given a bed for the night. The alarm was raised in the morning, and the man was escorted off base by the police. A source told TalkTV: “He was telling lots of tall stories, and the lads were enjoying his banter.” The source said that the man claimed to be called Fr Cruise, but “checks were made in the morning,” and “it was apparent this guy wasn’t a bona fide priest.” The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into the security breach.

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